Top-ranked shock jock Howard Stern announced Wednesday morning that he will abandon his syndicated morning radio show to join Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. in 15 months, giving him unlimited freedom from government regulators and a coast-to-coast audience.
"I've decided what my future is," Stern told his millions of listeners in a live announcement of his five-year, multimillion contract. "It's not this kind of radio any more."
Stern, who battled for years with the FCC and the religious right over his salacious show's content, will move to the national distributor of commercial-free music and sport programming when his contract with Infinity Broadcasting Corp. expires. The deal was signed on Monday, Stern said.
"I'm tired of the censorship," said Stern, whose show was Clear Channel Communications in April after the Federal Communications Commission against it for comments made by the nation's No. 1 shock jock.by media conglomerate
"The FCC ... has stopped me from doing business," Stern said. "... Clear Channel, you (expletives), I will bury you."
Under the satellite deal, Stern will be heard in every market across the country and will eventually program three stations for Sirius. Stern's show corners the radio market among males 18-49 years of age and ranks No. 1 in many of the 46 major markets where his show is broadcast.
Shares of the satellite radio company surged 18 percent on the news.
"It has been my dream to have the top-rated show in radio since I was five years old," Stern said in a statement. "Sirius — the future of radio — will take this dream to a whole new level as I bring my fans my show my way. It will be the best radio they will ever hear."
Sirius CEO Joseph P. Clayton called Stern "an entertainment force of unprecedented recognition and popularity in the broadcast world." Both Clayton and Stern predicted the shock jock will change the face of satellite radio and boost listenership.
"Sirius said to me, 'You're our Michael Jordan, you're everything, you're our cornerstone,'" Stern said. "It has reignited a fire in me. I want to create a brand new medium."
A call to Infinity for comment was not immediately returned.
As Stern was inking his new contract with Sirius, Bob Edwards, XM Satellite Radio.earlier this year as host of its "Morning Edition" program, began a new morning show Monday on
"It's like being at NPR when I joined NPR in 1974. It was less than three years old — as old as XM is now," he told the Washington Post this summer. "I get to be a pioneer again. How often does someone get that opportunity twice?"
Stern's former New York City shock-radio rivals, Opie and Anthony, are also now on XM. Gregg Hughes and Anthony Cumiafrom WNEW-FM (also an Infinity station) in August 2002 when their show encouraged a couple to have sex in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. Their new XM show airs 6 to 10 a.m. EDT, and they have vowed verbal revenge on Stern, who they claim was nasty to them after they were fired.
Edwards is on XM live from 8 to 9 a.m. EDT.
In July, Clear Channel sued Infinity for more than $3 million, claiming Stern broke their contract by violating federal indecency regulations. The lawsuit came in response to a $10 million suit filed by Stern and Infinity after Clear Channel dropped the shock jock from six markets.
Clear Channel dropped Stern from the six markets, including San Diego and Pittsburgh, after complaints from federal regulators. Stern's show often features sexually explicit remarks and off-color humor.
"This is something that has to be done. Otherwise, these FCC chumps win. Otherwise, it's the end of my career," Stern said on the air Wednesday morning. "I've been stifled now for, I'm going to say, 10 years."
Clear Channel said in its countersuit that its contract with Infinity and Stern required the show to comply with federal law and Federal Communications Commission decency requirements.
In June, Stern announced his show would go on the air in nine new markets owned by Infinity, including four where Clear Channel stations dropped it.
Like cable television, satellite radio does not face federal indecency scrutiny because it is only available to paid subscribers.
"This isn't farewell. We're going to stay on the radio, but a different kind of radio. The kind of radio you can hear all over the country, at the flick of a button, and no censorship," Stern told his listeners.
According to Sirius, it reaches more than 10 million DISH Network satellite TV and Sirius Satellite Radio subscribers, providing listeners with over 120 channels of commercial-free music, sports, information and entertainment.
Infinity, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc., owns approximately 180 radio stations located in 22 states in the nation's largest markets. CBSNews.com is also part of Viacom.